View Full Version : Parker's struggles ground Steelers

09-23-2008, 01:31 AM
Parker's struggles ground Steelers

By John Harris
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 89581.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_589581.html)

The nine sacks and indelible images of Ben Roethlisberger repeatedly picking himself up off the turf were nothing but window dressing for what really went wrong for the Steelers on Sunday.

Without a legitimate rushing attack to ease the load on his sore passing shoulder, Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense fizzled in a 15-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

For Roethlisberger to have a big day, the Steelers needed to establish running back Willie Parker's presence early.

On his first carry, Parker lost a yard. On his second carry, Parker lost another yard. Parker gained 6 yards on his third carry. On his fourth carry of the Steelers' first possession, Parker lost a yard.

Parker's first four rushes for a combined 3 yards represented nearly one-third of his 13 carrries against the Eagles. Parker's lack of success running the ball irrevocably altered the Steelers' game plan, changing their focus to a passing game that failed because the offensive line couldn't protect Roethlisberger.

"When the run doesn't go, everything is a disaster," Parker said.

On their 11 first-down plays in the first half, the Steelers' coaching staff called nine passes on what is traditionally a running down. Roethlisberger completed 4 of 5 passes for 39 yards with one interception. On the other four pass plays on first down in the first half, Roethlisberger was sacked.

When the Eagles stopped Parker, they effectively took the ball out of Roethlisberger's hands.

"Everything flows together," Parker said. "We didn't run the ball well at all. I think if we could have got the running game going we could have done a lot of other stuff."

Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson set his game plan on a hunch that he expected Roethlisberger to come out throwing.

"I know they like to run Parker, but we anticipated that a little bit, and we probably worked more on (defending) the passing game than the running game," Johnson said.

Parker, who opened the season with back-to-back 100-yard games, couldn't locate running lanes against a defense designed to stop the pass first and the run second.

The Eagles consider Parker an outside runner, so Johnson concentrated on taking away his speed and forcing him inside. Parker's longest run was 8 yards.

"We felt that we had to shut him down on the edges," said Johnson, revealing his game plan for Parker. "As far as getting outside, we did a good job with that."

Kill the run, and the pass will follow. The Steelers learned that lesson against Philadelphia the hard way.

John Harris is a sports writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

09-23-2008, 06:50 AM
Perhaps a mix of Mendenhall earlier on would loosen up the inside running lanes. But, with no blocking help, they'd both suffer I'm afraid. :roll:

stlrz d
09-23-2008, 07:41 AM
No mention of the numerous times the "pass rush" got to him in the backfield?

09-23-2008, 10:19 AM
How about when the run doesn't work use short passes that are very much like runs?

Screens anyone?

Arians apparently does not know what they are.

09-23-2008, 10:26 AM
Most of the Eagles blitzes were up the middle. So, we tried to beat that by running up the middle. Genius.

09-23-2008, 10:35 AM
Most of the Eagles blitzes were up the middle. So, we tried to beat that by running up the middle. Genius.

The idea is that Parker can out-wiggle the huge guys occupying every single "hole" that the line was SUPPOSED to open.

One other thing...I dont know if this has been said but I think it's amazing how much of our gameplan continually shows a TON of CONFIDENCE in our sh*t poor line. We put basically the WHOLE game in their hands and never plan for anything if they dont do a great job! That actually amazes me in the ineptitude of very HIGHLY PAID coaches to not figure something else out. We had what 6 sacks against us in the 1st half?! That would clue ME in to the fact that the OL isn't doing a very good job so maybe we should not continue to rely on them for everything.

Just an observation.

09-23-2008, 01:26 PM
See, this is why we have to get away from the "run first" mentality. When the running game doesn't work, everything else goes down the toilet.

Teams that can't throw the ball well don't get very far in today's game. We have to be able, IMO, to pass to set up the run. But of course, it's hard to do that when your O-line stinks and your OC is an idiot.

09-23-2008, 01:43 PM
We actually went with the "pass first" mentality in this game. The problem was that when we passed or ran the Eagles seemed to have people in our backfield. I just don't understand why we didn't try and get Parker on the edge either through a flat pass or a toss much the same way Dallas did with Felix Jones in the Sunday night game. :HeadBanger